Friday, March 30, 2018

Been a while

It has been sometime, years in fact, since I have written on this blog. Some may let it be, others delete it. But upon discovery I am choosing to continue up with it. The last time I posted on here was in 2012. A lot has changed. A LOT. As naturally it should be. Then I was neck deep in the Animal Rights movement. Now not so much. Still a proud vegan, for social reasons before anything. I've softened my stance on the perspectives of this world. Things are a lot more grey than I thought them to be. While on paper our decisions may seem to read like "this" or "that" it actually isn't that simple. We are natured and nurtured into who we are and this all influences us in the decisions we make, which shape the complexities of the situation. I've developed a more empathetic approach to a human who may wear fur, consume meat or hunt. While I have a level of disagreement with particular choices or lifestyles people have, I can grasp a bit further where tendencies or ignorance's come from. And in a practice off humility still own my own poor tendencies and ignorance's.

In all of this and a multitude of experiences and challenges a long the way, I've come to discover the Dhamma, which is the Buddha's teachings. A rookie in the process, I've jumped in the practice that encompasses this.

That's all that can be said for me from 2012 - 2018, although in the process I am sure more may come out. I'm still trying to figure myself out in my 30 year, am able to continue on this growth and path of discovery. Can I take my lifestyle and diet further and healthier, benefitting me, the animals and the planet? Am I able to work towards becoming a social worker, and provide some service to others. Can I strengthen my mediation practice that will allow me to orient myself as a positive force in this world?

All this and more,
Tara

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Time At Farm Sanctuary's Animal Acres

Here is the final portion of my time interning at Farm Sanctuary. I wrote it for the website, The Vegan Police, so it may repeat things mentioned in my previous posts. That being said, it does include my concluding thoughts on the experience. 
Click the photo to get to the article. 

Enjoy!

Peanut and William

Monday, September 17, 2012

Halfway through September

The month of September is carrying on as expected. The work is easier and my love for this place is continuing to grow. I’d say after the first two weeks of my time here, once I got past that awkward, anxious stage, my heart began to open and really take in everything.

I have been able to observe my surroundings more and have been seeing the details of everything. I know most of the animal's personalities and physical traits. I am also seeing this with all the people here, from my fellow interns to the caregivers. We are connecting with and influencing one another, the non-human animals included. 

Feeding the back cattle on my own during my AM shift
 Amy and Dani are both in their second week and it seems they are beginning to grasp the work. With two extra people, we are finishing our daily work earlier than normal. With more time, we are able to get the extra work done and we hang out with the animals more. It is weird to see four people cleaning, when I had grown so accustomed to only seeing one other person with me.

Last week, we finished everything before our shift was done, there was no more extra work to do, so we went to groom the cattle. It was fantastic.

I spent most of my time sitting down next to Punky. It was an incredible experience. I sat next to him for 25 minutes. Taking the time to look him in the eye, I am not sure how anyone can not see a beautiful living being. While I groomed him he watched me, turned his head into me and rested his head down. When I would stop for a moment, he would swing his head my way as if to say, "keep going!" 

It is hard to not think that I consumed a cow just like him before and that people still do. I have wondered since being out here, if anyone who still eats meat, were substituted in my place and had the expereinces I have had, would be able to continue on with their lifestyle. 

Since going vegetarian seven years ago and vegan just about five years ago, I have always looked at these animals as no different than a dog or cat. Being here has further rooted how I feel. Their physical appearance is different, their nutritional requirements and day to day needs may be different. However, dogs do not look like cats, require the same nourishment or the daily needs of a cat, but we put them in the same category. These animals equally want to receive love and they have love to give. They are aware of you as much as you are aware of them and they develop attachments and habits and routine just like any of us. There is such a detachment between a farm animal and the products they become. If you can see past, a moment's satisfaction of a burger or chicken wing, and realise that without these small moments of satisfaction an animal is able to live, love and feel than I can really respect that. 

William keeping me company as I clean around the cattle barn


A line from the song "Apparently, I'm A "P.C. Fascist" (Because I Care About Both Human And Non-human" by one of my favourite bands, Propagandhi, says, "And you can feign ignorance, but you're not stupid, you're just selfish. And you're a slave to your impulse." That line has crossed my mind as I have reflected on thoughts while being out here. I understand it more now than ever. 

After experiencing my time with these animals, connecting with them like I would with a dog, cat or human being, I find it difficult to not think about the beautiful animals, like the ones I have gotten to know here, that people around me are consuming. There are cows everywhere much like the cattle here, who are being killed for meat and raped for dairy as I write these words. And very few thoughts have broken my heart more. It is like the song lyric, about being a slave to impulse or satisfaction. We would much rather have the minutes pleasure of eating a hamburger with cheese than not and sparing a cow’s life. 


I have learned that if you are against veal, but consume dairy than you are still endorsing the veal industry. Like humans cows lactate after giving birth with the purpose of feeding the milk to their babies. Cows are artificially inseminated, go through pregnancy and then give birth to a calf. Whether it is organic or conventional dairy, the calf is taken away from their mother immediately and shortly after they will be killed for veal. The milk the mother cow began to produce is drawn from them and turned into milk, cheese, ice cream, etc... You cannot just choose to not eat veal if you are against it, you must cut out dairy as well.











William (left) and Harry(above) are the youngest cattle here, and they were rescued from a veal farm. They are just like puppies, they want to play all the time and are super curious!


Anyone close to me knows that for the time I have been vegan I have never forced it upon anyone. If I have spoken about it, it has made up a miniscule percentage of my interaction with them or it was brought on by discussion or argument. I will not push my belief onto people, because I do not think force serves many purposes, however I do ask my peers, family and friends, to understand what I am trying to say, where I am coming from and to know I still love them far more than words can describe. That is why I ask you all to really think on what I have said and I am open to discussion if they feel they would like to. 

This week I got the opportunity to shadow the health checks again, which were done on the white turkeys.

They clipped their nails and did body check on them. If live is detected, then they would apply a powder that aided with getting rid of the lice. I learned that their is a poultry specific type of lice that we as humans cannot get. The lice can crawl on us, but they would never take us on as a host.


When the caregivers were done with the body checks Amy and I were responsible for weighing the turkeys. So, I picked up the turkeys and put them on the scale while Amy recorded their weight. 

Kate and Kim doing health checks on the white turkeys


I worked my first PM shift this week with Alex.

It was a bit of a crazy day and did not go down in its normal routine because we had an injured steer.

Ever since Tanya and I started our internship, there has been a steer having trouble getting up after sitting down. Some days he will spend close to ten hours sitting down. That day he had been sitting down for close to twelve hours. The caregivers tried whatever they could to get him up themselves, but were unable to. Out of concern they called the vet, who tried what he could to get him up, and still was unsuccessful. The vet then called a search a rescue emergency team to help get him up.


The rescue group consisted of many, many firefighters.

A lot of stuff went on, and trying to get it all into this blog post in detail is not likely, as I have an awful memory, and I am going to try and keep it simple.

They put supports beneath the steer and then attached the supports to the lift of a large tractor that was brought to the farm. The tractor began to raise the lift and the steer was off the ground, but his legs were not trying to support his weight. The poor guy was not really trying at all. The rescue ended with the team leaving the steer to sit, because they were unable to get him on his feet.

For the evening, the steer was left to sit in the pasture, with the hopes that he would be able to stand the next day.


Alex and I continued our P.M. shift later than it normally would start, so the normal routine was not followed.

Aside from the unfortunate moments with the steer, I enjoyed the shift. Things were more rushed than usual, but we still got everything done. It was neat to see all of the animals being put into their barns at night, so peaceful. I think Alex is awesome! So it was cool to spend time with her and to hear her stories, she is very dedicated and passionate about animals.

The next day, the steer was still not getting up, so the decision was made for him to be euthanized. He weighed aproximately 2,100 pounds and it would be crucial for him to be able to stand in order to enjoy his life. Many of the caregivers and volunteers said their good-byes before he left. He was a very fortunate steer. 

Most cattle raised in the meat industry are slaughtered at a very young age. They are not able to live their life span or grow to their full potential. He was able to live out his life longer with an immense amount of love unlike many cattle raised in the agriculture industry. Even a farmer who "loves" their animals, if they are being raised for eventual slaighter then I question that whole idea of love, if the entire time the intention is for the animal to be killed. 

Everyone here lives for these animals and loves these animals. They are their family. Although, his life was shorter than it could have been, I am sure it was as fullfilled as if he did not have the leg trouble. He did not die at the hands of slaughter or for the purpose of consumption, he died because it was his time to go. He served his life as he was meant to and touched the lives that surrounded him with tears as he left.

Due to the passing of the steer, I went to Orange County - ON MY OWN - to pick up a hen from the Orange County Humaine Society. I did this because the caregiver who was going to be picking up the hen wanted to say goodbye to the steer and I offered to make the drive. It was nice to get out of Acton and see a bit more of southern California. The drive one way was about an hour and a half. There was only traffic really, on the way back. 

View on the drive back to the farm


So, we now have another hen and named Marge, I will try to snag a photo to include on a farm dwellers post!

As of today, I have a full two weeks left. It is going to fly.



Things I have done:
  • Bike from Santa Monica to Venice Beach and back
  • Play poker with a bunch of strangers (not with real money)
  • Have an incredibly awkward conversation with a 40 year old man from Palmdale, CA
  • Pecked by a chicken, rooster and turkey
  • Cleaned pigs ears
  • Held a chicken
  • Sun screened pigs ears
  • Rubbed a lot of pigs bellies
  • Cleaned out a barn
  • Brushed cow's hair
  • Finished Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Made a list of 101 Things to do in 1001 days - my deadline is Sunday May 3, 2015
  • Drive a big truck around the farm
  • Feed a goat medicine mixed with molasses
  • Spray turkeys with water to cool them off
  • Spray pigs with water to cool them off
  • Spray water into pigs mouthes
  • Watch Breakfast at Tiffanys
  • Walk a turkey to his pen
  • Had my first sentimental moment with a sheep
  • Lift a weight on my own I have never been able to lift
  • Skype with Cat and Theresa, Pavel, Jessie, Krystin, Mom, Dad, Allison, Julie, Oliver, Nico, Grandma, Uncle Frank and Auntie Carla
  • Help a caregiver give a sheep a needle (held her down)
  • Walk around the farm at night
  • Drive in California
  • Help a turkey groom himself, break the pin feathers
  • Skype with Raman
  • Foster a dog
  • Feed Li Mu Bi by hand
  • Watch a vet treat a tumour on a cow
  • Shadow caregivers doing goat and sheep health checks
  • Listen to the new Propagandhi album a bunch of times
  • Rub Russell the turkey's belly
  • Work a PM shift
  • See a pig yawn
  • Have my foot stepped on by a pig
  • Sit beside a cow for 25 minutes
  • Licked by a cow
  • Feed white turkeys
  • Drive to and from Orange County, on my own
  • Feed front and back cattle
  • Feed front and back pigs
  • Feed horses
  • Make mash for skinny goats

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Farm Dwellers 3


Penny, Kate's dog 
And another because she is soo cute

Doogie

Coco

William

Harry

Turkey Lurkey

Found out this guy's name, James Dean

Agnes

Alicia

Annette 

Macy

Russell

Bella (Left - he is male, they thought he was female when they got him), Snuggles (Right)

Monday, September 3, 2012

The beginning of September


It is officially September. This means I am past half way and have less than a month at Farm Sanctuary. I feel like Tanya and I were anticipating the coming of September, due to the arrival of the interns, that we did not clue into the fact that the coming of September also meant that we would be leaving soon. I have a feeling this next month is going to fly right by.

The interns seem to be very nice. Their names are Dani, Amy and Rachel. Dani and Amy will be working with Tanya and I - Yay. While, Rachel will be working with Kelly the education coordinator, she will be doing administrative work for them and helping out with tours of the sanctuary that are given on Sundays and Mondays.

Rachel is from San Diego, Dani is from Hawaii and Amy is from Seattle, but she is originally from Korea.


Rachel, who is from San Diego, has her car with her and has offered to drive us out into town whenever we need to, which is very kind of her. No one expects her to do it, but appreciate the offer!

This is the main pig barn
As far as work on the farm goes, I am still cleaning barns. Which do not get me wrong, is not a bad thing. There is not a lot new to write about in terms of work.

Since Ceci left, we were working eight to five cleaning shifts everyday. Now, with more interns, we are being scheduled to work A.M. shifts, P.M. shifts and Health Check shifts. We are still primarily going to be cleaning, but they want to give us more variety and shadow the caregivers. Kate made the schedule for the first two weeks of September and it looks like I will be working, on top of cleaning, a few A.M. and P.M. shifts and two Health Checks.

The A.M. shifts start at six in the morning and go until three in the afternoon. From six until after eight you assist and shadow the morning caregiver with feeding the animals and letting them out from the barns. You also get to help them give the animals their medicine and sunscreen the pigs ears. And then for the rest of the day you join the other cleaners.


The P.M. shift consists of the same thing, just in reverse. The shift starts at noon and goes until nine. You start your shift with the cleaners and then around five join the caregiver. Here you help them feed the animals and then put them into their barns for the evening.

I took part in a health check shift this week with the goats and sheeps.I did not do a whole lot, mainly just shadow the caregivers and assisted them when needed. But it was pretty wicked to watch.


During these checks, they propped the sheep into what can best be described as a chair. The way they were positioned as if they were in a recliner with their legs out in front and their arms up. This would allow them to sit still, for the most part, and give the caregivers a chance to do a health check on them. My job was to hold the sheep and goats incase they struggled.

Basically, a health check includes, trimming their hooves, checking for mange -
the common name for a class of skin diseases caused by parasites, and checking for bugs in their skin. They will feel out the majority of the animal’s underside to check for any bumps or anything unusual and their teeth.

It was cool to watch them do it, I got to spend some time more with Kate, the shelter manager, and with Alex and Kim, who are caregivers. 

Outside of work, it has been an interesting week. I am currently fostering a three month old puppy...

Last Saturday, as Alex was driving to work. She saw two little puppies on the side of the 405 freeway. She stopped an entire lane of traffic and had the other lanes all slow down to try and save them. One of the puppies ran away at the sight of her, but the other puppy she was able to grab and take in. She brought him with her to work that day and named him David. 

My cuddle buddy for the rest of the month


For the day it seemed she was going to keep him, but there was still some hesitation. So, I expressed to her that if she cannot take him I would consider it and do the research to bring him into Canada with me. The next day was my day off, but she brought him into work with her and asked if I would be able to dog sit him for the day. Eventually that day she told me that she does not think she can take him, and said I am welcome to.

So for the remainder of my two days off I did the research on what he will need to get across the border and what I will need to fly him home with me. To get into Canada all I needed was a rabies vaccination certificate and to fly him with me I would need a health certificate and a carrier that was a decent enough size for him to be comfortable. Susie, the director of all of the sanctuaries and someone I do not know, offered to cover all the Vet expenses and bought him food and this sanctuary was going to give me a carrier.


I had contacted my parents on my second day off to let them know I would be bringing a dog back with me, and their reactions were of mixed feelings, which I understand.

When I am home I will be living with my family in Welland. I will be making an hour commute both to and from work and working an eight hour shift five days out of the week. Meaning that the majority of my time would be away from home. I would be dependent on my family to assist with taking care of the puppy, which was an assumption, I initially made, but not fair to my family.

I put up much of a grudge to the feelings that did not agree with my decision, but hit a point eventually where I understood them. There was never force from my parents, both are the most supportive and loving people I know. Even if they strongly disagree with a decision I have made. It was expressed to me that the timing is not right, since I will be in between living situations and not settled, it was said to be best to not bring home David.

Tuesday morning I let Alex know that I would not be able to take David either.


I believe the decision is for the best, the dog is damn cute, but I know it would have been too hard for me to do with work. With an equally as busy family, David would be spending most of his time in a crate in my room.

For the remainder of September, or at least until David finds a loving home I am his foster mom. I am currently crate training him and he is doing great. He has only had two accidents in the house since. He is only three months old and it turns out I would have not been able to take him home with me anyway. He went to the vet a few days ago and would not be getting his rabies vaccination for another month and that would be just a little bit longer than my time here.

It is weird going from a month of living with three people to living with six! It is quite the full house. I am living with Kate, her dog Penny, Tanya, Amy, Dani, Rachel, David - the puppy, and after five p.m. Piper and Hazel - the two chickens! It is hilarious.

It is nice to have more people around who love David, because he is able to spend time with other people. We are both growing attached to one another. The guy does not leave my side, he will only eat if I am right beside him and when I was cuddling with him I thought about how in less than a month I would have to say bye and it made my eyes watery.

I think Alex is still on the borderline with taking him or as she suggested the dog become the sanctuary dog and live at the intern house. It would be sad in that case because there will always be new people coming and going, but he would get spoiled by everyone and still see the familiar faces of the Farm Sanctuary employees.

Hand feeding Li Mu Bai


There is a week where Karen, the internship coordinator, will be going to the Northern California Sanctuary for training and we will not be doing groceries or having a lunch/presentation that week. Initially we were told that we would have to buy groceries for two weeks, the week prior to her being away, but Rachel has already offered that we all go into LA for the evening have dinner then get groceries, I think this would be great and help all of us out a lot. This is still in a couple weeks though, if it does not happen, it is obviously okay, but if it does, it would be great!

Everyone is really awesome. It seems we all come from different backgrounds, discovered veganism in similar ways, but what motivated us to come out here is very different. And I love it. I love diversity. What I have noticed especially in the vegan/animal liberation community is there is so much diversity that leads to this one belief.


I have added a few links to the left side of the blog. They are blogs and websites that I think are worth checking out. If you have anything you would like me to add to it, email me at: tarapelette@gmail.com

Ryan O’Dell is a friend from Welland, ON who is currently interning in South Africa. He is video blogging as well

Groovy Moments is my friend Janie’s blog, check it out to read about her fantastic family and adventures.

Young Island is the experimental/electronic music created by my friend Paul Stallan, who is currently living in England. On the Facebook page you can get to his bandcamp page, where you can download his music for free.

Tasha is the music project of my friend Tasha Pastor from Oakville, ON

The Vegan Stoner is one of my favourite recipe blogs. It is affordable and has amazing illustrations!

Scott Hume is a friend, who is a cartoonist and illustrator living in Hamilton

Alysha Dawn Illustration is the website of my crafty illustrator friend. I have also included her blog.

Things I have done:
  • Bike from Santa Monica to Venice Beach and back
  • Play poker with a bunch of strangers (not with real money)
  • Have an incredibly awkward conversation with a 40 year old man from Palmdale, CA
  • Pecked by a chicken, rooster and turkey
  • Cleaned pigs ears
  • Held a chicken
  • Sun screened pigs ears
  • Rubbed a lot of pigs bellies
  • Cleaned out a barn
  • Brushed cow's hair
  • Finished Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Made a list of 101 Things to do in 1001 days - my deadline is Sunday May 3, 2015
  • Drive a big truck around the farm
  • Feed a goat medicine mixed with molasses
  • Spray turkeys with water to cool them off
  • Spray pigs with water to cool them off
  • Spray water into pigs mouthes
  • Watch Breakfast at Tiffanys
  • Walk a turkey to his pen
  • Had my first sentimental moment with a sheep
  • Lift a weight on my own I have never been able to lift
  • Skype with Cat and Theresa, Pavel, Jessie, Krystin, Mom, Dad, Allison, Julie, Oliver, Nico, Grandma, Uncle Frank and Auntie Carla
  • Help a caregiver give a sheep a needle (held her down)
  • Walk around the farm at night
  • Drive in California
  • Help a turkey groom himself, break the pin feathers
  • Skype with Raman
  • Foster a dog
  • Feed Li Mu Bi by hand
  • Watch a vet treat a tumour on a cow
  • Shadow caregivers doing goat and sheep health checks
  • Listen to the new Propagandhi album a bunch of times
  • Rub Russell the turkey's belly